Marketing Director at AutoBI
How to attract a targeted audience in a competitive business? We will reveal how AutoBI, a transport tech startup followed the path of Figma, Slack, Dropbox, and Zoom and created its SEO strategy with a product-led approach.
Why does a SaaS startup need an SEO strategy?
AutoBI is a Ukrainian SaaS startup, vehicle management and monitoring system that helps businesses control corporate cars’ movement and optimize repair and maintenance costs, increasing fleet efficiency.
Niche-market projects often use quick strategies like pay-per-click advertising, social media advertising, and affiliate marketing to gain users and attract investors to MVP. But the effect of such methods is short-lived, and the costs can far outweigh the cost of organically acquiring customers.
AutoBI focuses specifically on SEO to attract targeted users and reduce lead costs as an alternative to competitors’ strategies. In addition, the company builds an approach based on the product-led principle, i.e., around the product and its customer benefits.
Unlike traditional SEO, Product-Led focuses on improving the product or service to be more valuable and attractive to potential customers, not just search engines. The strategy includes a study of the ideal client: his tasks, problems, and behavior scenarios in the product, followed by using insights in the SEO strategy.
This approach attracts users and, at the same time, increases the chances of getting better positions (for example, through quality content that meets the user’s needs).
How to build a product-led strategy? Step-by-step guide
Before starting to develop a strategy, let’s recall a few features of SaaS products:
The SaaS model is different from traditional software. In such products, users pay for the service as a subscription so incorrect pricing can alienate potential customers. SEO’s goal is not limited to improving the site’s ranking in the SERP by keywords and getting traffic. High-quality content on the website, backlinks, and mentions of the service not only increase authority from the point of view of search engines but also increase brand loyalty, which contributes to an increase in the audience of active users In addition to SEO performance indicators, SaaS metrics such as MQL (marketing qualified lead), SQL (sales qualified lead), MRR (monthly recurring revenue), and ARPU (average revenue per user) are valuable to track. In our strategy, we leave room for experimentation and market trends since the product and market are constantly evolving. In order to accommodate product changes, the strategy must remain flexible.
Now let’s take a look at the process of developing a product-driven strategy using AutoBI.
Research the target audience: create a portrait of the customer and work out his concerns, pain points, and needs related to transport control systems. To build a product-led SEO strategy, we need to understand the user’s interactions with the product.
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Examine the market leaders: analyze the level of competition, positioning, SEO approaches, and website content (semantics, backlink volume, structure, categories and content formats, etc.).
Conduct a site audit and compose SEO and content analytics: usability and technical site audit, evaluate traffic channels and content conversions. As part of this process, the strategy is formed by identifying the problems it will solve.
Set specific goals for the strategy: expected results from the implementation and how to measure the strategy’s effectiveness.
Content plan — segment the results of competitor analysis and keyword research and create a content plan to cover product features and user tasks.
Draw up an off-page optimization strategy based on the product and viral content associated with the sphere of your interests.
Form critical areas, describe tasks, and start implementing the strategy 🙂 Remember to analyze the results and adjust the plan.
1. Audience Research: Creating an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
Since our focus is on product-led strategy, let’s start by studying the product’s target audience. Instead of attracting visitors with a low chance of converting, we focus only on “power users” who bring maximum value to the company.
For AutoBI, we formed the following portrait of an ideal client:
Transport, logistics, and manufacturing company C-level managers and executives (CEOs, CTOs, commercial directors, etc.) with limited time to analyze an abundance of incoming data. They demand service quality, make decisions based on arguments and expert opinions, and delegate service selection issues to subordinates.
Based on the user portrait, we draw the following conclusions about SEO, site structure, and content:
A convenient and straightforward site structure is necessary to easily search for features, contacts, prices, and reviews. Our ICPs don’t have much time, so the most relevant sections should be available right away. The site’s content should answer questions related to the product in the client’s language. We should use clear and concise formats and write the benefits of the service in terms of the pain points and challenges of our ICP. Key pages should contain elements that increase loyalty to the service (expert comments and reviews from real users, also in video format).
This step will help identify trends and patterns in the business line and find the product’s strengths and weaknesses. Since we are talking about competitors in the search results, let’s start by searching for them by seed keywords and analyzing the essential specificities.
For example, let’s check a keyword related to a product — “GPS monitoring systems” — and use it as a starting point for finding and analyzing competitors.
After selecting the most relevant domains, checking visibility in search engines, and excluding marketplaces, we continue the analysis with a list of confirmed competitors.
We recommend breaking down the competitor analysis into several areas:
Review competitors’ unique offers, products, ICP, and pricing to collect vital insights to use in the strategy.
Semantic and content analysis. Our team paid attention to the site’s sections, headings, tags, content formats, and the value of the resources the website gives to the user (landing pages, articles, courses, video tutorials, reviews, and use cases). We also added data from Serpstat and got insights about topics and formats which get the most traffic and links.
For example, according to the results, the maximum traffic gets the “how-to” content. Therefore, we take into the strategy the essential topics to build content. It is necessary to recognize whether the themes are related to the product and dismiss those that will not interest the target audience.
How to control fuel consumption?Is it possible to cheat, bypass, or disable the GPS tracker and GPS system?What are jammers and anti-jammers?Public transport tracking system: the features of urban logisticsTruck route maps for EuropeTruck fuel consumptionDriver control: how to manage employees of a large organizationExplore the SEO parameters for the list of competitors using Domain Batch Analysis and get an idea of the level of competition. The tool can compare several websites at once in terms of traffic, visibility, number of keywords, backlinks, etc.
During the backlink analysis, we focus on the domain authority indicator SDR (Serpstat Domain Rank). This parameter indicates the quality of the backlink volume. Getting high-quality backlinks in a niche can be challenging if this metric is low for the entire sample of domains. An alternative interpretation is that competitors need to improve a backlink profile, which is an excellent opportunity for our product.
Analysis Of Competitors’ Websites: An Extensive Guide
How to Conduct Competitor Analysis and What Approaches To Use At Each Step
How To Carry Out A Quick Analysis Of Competitors’ Contextual Advertising (PPC)
3. Website audit, analytics
It’s beneficial to supplement the analysis of competitors and audiences with a website audit. As a result, we get a list of priority areas the strategy will address. An example:
Traffic. The primary traffic sources are direct visitors (entering the site name in the address bar) and referrals from regular E-mail newsletters in the second place. Only in third place — visits from search results. This fact indicates that the site needed to be represented more in organic results.
auto-bi.io Traffic Sources (December 2021 — 2022)
Content. Content. The main problems are attraction of organic traffic to the “landing format” site and the lack of a “Blog” section for posting articles that could more accurately describe the company’s profile and bring the audience.
In addition, existing content drives non-targeted traffic. For example, for the keyword “GPS monitoring”, customers request online monitoring and search for public transport maps.
Sometimes the search intent doesn’t separate the tracking equipment from the system: GPS tracker + monitoring system = one request, but the search starts with the tracker.
The site structure and language versions also need to be improved. In particular, the footer, where competitors display their capabilities and tools in landings, and a header with cases, reviews, and solutions for individual client segments.
While studying competitors and semantics, we also discovered potential sources of traffic — different language versions. Such positioning and localization were in our plans as well. We are prepared to enter new markets: Poland and Great Britain.
The plugin helps you to observe the main technical specifications right on the page:
Setting goals for AutoBI, we get used to the well-known SMART model with some adaptation to the product’s features and its current stage of development. The principles of the goals, according to the SMART model, are:
S (specific) — the specificity of the goal. The narrower a goal is, the clearer its steps will be.
M (measurable) — If no actual metrics indicates the strategy’s success, then the goal is set incorrectly.
A (achievable) — This aspect of goal setting should neutralize the unrealistic expectations that often accompany SEO.
R (relevant) — The goal should be necessary for a particular direction and the company.
T (time-bound) — limited in time.
For example, reaching the top 3 in a month is an unattainable, immeasurable, irrelevant goal. It needs to be clarified what keywords we will get at the top and whether these queries will lead target users to the product.
But getting into the top 10 for specific keywords related to the product, in the top 10 by the end of 2023, is already an achievable, measurable, relevant, and time-bound goal.
ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment) indicator plays a significant role in AutoBI goal-setting). Since it was planned to reduce the cost of attracting new customers, marketing activities were carefully evaluated. We formed our goal: to make 100% ROMI in one year, and optimize paid traffic channels, Fb Target, and E-mail newsletters. In addition, it will shorten the transaction cycle.
5. How to create content for your brand: content plan
In a SaaS business, developing a content-driven SEO strategy is essential, remembering that homepages should be the most relevant to the search query and earn backlinks. Such pages will help you better understand the search intent and reduce the number of non-targeted hits.
Delays in developing new pages, categories, and site sections can harm the business. The sooner you create resource pages, the better. Here are some reasons:
you will have content to attract additional traffic;users will be able to share links, blog-posts, and other information;you can detect high-performing pages for further improvements;you can optimize internal linking;these pages accumulate the age of the URL. There is also a recommended approach to creating such pages as an MVP (minimum viable product), i.e., quickly launch pages and then improve those.
For the target audience to find the platform in the search, it is more manageable to collect the system’s main features and think over the associated topics and content formats. The content should sufficiently describe the product from the point of view of search engines and contain the semantics that customers use to find solutions.
Outline a rough product capability structure:
Catalog of machinery and equipmentInteractive control panelGroups of machinery and equipmentAutomatic tracking of traffic finesUsers and permissions ModuleCreation of the company structureOpen API for integrationsSaaS control panelParts Inventory ManagementTelematics and monitoring moduleNotification moduleIdentification by VIN and license plate numberConnecting GPS trackersInsurance contractsService requests for repairsFind seed keywords for every aspect of using the system. Choose those that best meet the functionality of the product.
Extend the semantics with a report Related keywords.
Since you can create many variations of content on the same topic, the next step is determining which content format best matches the search intent. To solve this task, you can explore the Top by keyword report:
The top of SERP is occupied by landing pages with a description of competitors’ tools and articles optimized for informational keywords. But preparing high-quality content also means creating informative and helpful videos for the target audience. This format will be most effective for unique “killer features” and products.
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Gather content ideas and supplement them with those needed to handle objections and solve customer problems.
When analyzing keywords, paying attention to the presence of SERP features in the search results is essential. For example, for the queries, related to the “transport management system” in the SERP, there are a Top PPC block, Bottom PPC block, related questions, and People also ask. We added SERP elements to the content plan as well to display images of the system interface, an FAQ with answers, a definition for quick answers, etc.)
Supplement the topics with product queries related to the brand:
AutoBI pricingIntegrations with AutoBIOpinions about AutoBIAutoBI and/or FieldBI (competitor comparison).
As a result, we built a content plan for about 6 months of collaboration with copywriters and prepared technical requirements.
6. How to get backlinks: proven strategies
In Off-page optimization for product-oriented strategies, the content remains the primary tool, which reduces the cost of link building. It is vital that the materials attract target users, match the search intent, and motivate them to share information on social networks or add a link to your blog post.
An example of such a strategy is Glassdoor, which creates unique content related to a niche (research, ratings, and polls). Such studies are cited on external websites and receive links (Glassdoor has more than 15.1M external links).
By checking the leading pages in terms of the number of backlinks, you can find exciting ideas for link-bait content. For example, a study on the logistics industry by freightwaves.com received 242 external links.
An interesting example of getting mentions is webinars and specialized conferences. In addition, such events allow you to get helpful information from your target audience and learn more about its problems.
For example, as a result of studying user feedback, you can find weaknesses in the product:
Essential tools for the user need to be included. There needs to be more information about the product: instructions, use cases, and videos that the user needs.The design and interface of the service could be more convenient for use and quick navigation.For example, AutoBI organized a webinar about GPS monitoring of vehicles and digitalization of the fleet, inviting Uklon representatives and the owners of the largest Ukrainian fleets. As a result, we attracted a new audience for our product, received feedback from the target audience, and got an idea for developing a new feature in the product.
In addition, finding partners is essential to increase the number of external links. With the help of backlink analysis tools, we study the mentions of competitors and select high-quality resources for publishing guest articles on transport analytics.
It is easier to move towards goals by working with a strategy according to a pre-prepared and tested plan. It is crucial to track the progress of work progress and record intermediate results to understand in time if something went wrong.
We managed to identify the most relevant areas for our business and set tasks:
Site structure and design changes. The plans included items for adding a menu and a section with a description and technical characteristics of the equipment — Teltonika GPS trackers.
We planned this step to adapt the USP to non-targeted requests. If we are found in the search results for intent related to GPS equipment, we can allow buying such equipment, given the close relationship with suppliers. For these purposes, we have already prepared landing pages. We plan to launch a new product on the Ukrainian market — a boxed solution, a GPS tracker + monitoring system.
New markets. Our team expects tasks related to the localization and translation of the system into Polish and English. The nearest plans include:
Searching for and attracting additional investments for the development of the project.Expanding the functionality of the platform. Work with content and backlinks. We planned regular posting of optimized articles according to the content plan and increasing the backlink volume on thematic resources.
The strategy has already brought the first results: positions in the top 10 by relevant search queries in Google UK 😉
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The opinion of the guest post authors may not coincide with the opinion of the Serpstat editorial staff and specialists.
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